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Transport plays a key role in securing the free movement of persons and goods in the internal market. Through the EEA Agreement, Norway is part of the EU’s internal market for all the transport modes: road, rail, air and maritime. This means that most EU transport legislation is EEA-relevant and is incorporated into Norwegian law.

EU legislation for the internal market largely determines the rules for the Norwegian transport and communications market. In order to improve traffic safety within all transport modes, the EU is developing legislation with a greater degree of harmonisation. Common legislation is also being drafted to strengthen passengers’ rights and to prevent terrorist attacks through stricter security rules.

EU transport policy
The EU’s transport policy is designed to foster a competitive, sustainable business sector and to promote the welfare of citizens throughout the European Union. It aims to ensure a high degree of mobility, protect the environment and be at the forefront in implementing innovative solutions and international standards. The EU has identified three priority areas for its transport policy: infrastructure, the internal market and innovation.

Cross-border infrastructure of a high standard is crucial to the functioning of the EU’s internal market. The programme for a trans-European transport network (TEN-T) is a key instrument for creating a common transport network that integrates transport on land, in the air and at sea. In the years ahead, infrastructure policy will increasingly be focused on greener transport. EU member states have the main responsibility for financing infrastructure investments, while the EU contributes to the financing of projects under the TEN-T programme and through the Structural Funds.

The internal transport market is important for securing equal conditions of competition among transport modes and better use of their comparative advantages, and for facilitating environmentally efficient chains of transport. Further development of legislation for the internal transport market is high on the agenda, but some of the proposed measures are politically controversial. These include the question of whether to allow competition in domestic passenger transport by rail and the possible lifting of all cabotage restrictions on road freight.

There is an increasing focus on knowledge and innovation for smarter, greener transport, including better, more environmentally friendly use of the infrastructure and means of transport. Within aviation (the Single European Sky ATM Research Programme (SESAR)) and rail transport (the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS)), standards and management systems are being developed to radically improve European air and rail capacity and safety in the years ahead at significantly lower costs and with reductions in environmentally harmful emissions. Within road transport there is a strong focus on the development and use of intelligent transport systems (ITS) for improved utilisation of existing and new roads, simplification and improved efficiency in electronic fee collection (EFC) and enhanced traffic safety in Europe (eCall). High priority will continue to be given to work on alternative fuels and energy carriers, and energy efficiency standards, in all the transport modes. Within shipping, the EU will introduce new limits on sulphur emissions in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel from 2015 in line with the limits adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  

Association with the EU through the EEA Agreement
Through the EEA Agreement, Norway participates fully in the internal market for transport. Most EU transport legislation is EEA-relevant and is incorporated into Norwegian law. This applies to all the transport modes: road, air, rail, and maritime. Maritime transport is the responsibility of the Ministry of Trade and Industry; the other three modes are the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The transport market in the EEA is being harmonised and has been opened up for competition in many areas. Civil aviation has been liberalised, giving all airlines from EU and EEA countries equal access to the EEA market. The EEA Agreement ensures that road freight operators can transport goods freely to and from all EU/EEA countries. The market for rail services has now been opened up for competition in freight transport and cross-border passenger traffic. The shipping market has also been liberalised, and efforts are being made to ensure that short sea shipping within the EU/EEA will have the same benefits from the internal market as other forms of transport (the Blue Belt project).

Participation in EU programmes and agencies
Norway participates in the following transport agencies:

  • European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA): EASA promotes the highest common standards of safety and environmental protection in civil aviation in Europe and worldwide. It is the centrepiece of a new regulatory system that provides for a single European market in the aviation industry.
  • European Railway Agency (ERA): ERA seeks to ensure that the European Commission and the member states have access to the necessary expertise and technical support in the area of rail transport and railway safety.
  • European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA): EMSA provides support for the updating, development and harmonised implementation of EU legislation on maritime safety and environmental protection, and evaluates the effectiveness of existing measures.

Norway also participates in the EU’s Marco Polo programme, which provides funding for projects to reduce road congestion and the pollution it causes by promoting a switch for European freight traffic from road to greener transport modes (sea, rail and inland waterways).

Relevant forums

  • Norway takes part in European Commission expert groups and committees that develop transport legislation.
  • The Ministry of Transport and Communications chairs the EEA special committee for transport, in which other ministries also participate.
  • The Ministry of Transport and Communications, together with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, participates in EFTA’s working group for transport. The primary task of this group is to assess whether EU legislation is relevant and acceptable in relation to the EEA Agreement, and to follow up matters from the time they are proposed by the Commission. In this process, the Commission or representatives of the European Parliament are invited to meetings in the working group to provide information and discuss specific matters.

National experts
Norway has a number of national experts working on transport matters in the EU. Contact information for all the Norwegian national experts can be found on the EFTA Secretariat’s website.



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